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Ballina to crack down on private forestry

The Ballina Shire Council is looking to crack down on private forestry activity in the shire to prevent the clearing of koala habitat trees and other native vegetation. Source: The Echo

Councillor Paul Worth has lodged a motion calling on the council to amend the Ballina Local Environment Plan 1987 to establish a requirement for council consent for anyone undertaking private native forestry (PNF) activity.

PNF is the logging of native vegetation on private property, and it requires Environment Protection Authority approval.

But Cr Worth said there appeared to be limited assessment of ecological and amenity impacts associated with EPA approvals.

“PNF is emerging as an activity in Ballina shire that could result in the clearing of substantial areas of the remaining native vegetation in the shire,” he said

“In particular, it is evident that there is interest from both landholders and timber companies in undertaking PNF in the Bagotville, Meerschaum Vale, Wardell, Coolgardie and broader Blackwall Range localities.

“A recent example of this is the clearing for PNF purposes on the western side of the Coolgardie escarpment along Wardell Road.”

Cr Worth said it was a concern that much of the native vegetation that was potentially suited to PNF was not subject to forestry and clearing regulation by council under the local environmental plan.

“This is of concern as council has consistently identified native vegetation in the Bagotville, Meerschaum Vale, Wardell, Coolgardie and broader Blackwall Range localities as ecologically significant and important from a scenic amenity perspective,” said Cr Worth.

“More specifically, the Coolgardie Land Use Review, council’s vegetation mapping and council’s endorsed environmental protection zones under the Standard Instrument LEPs indicate important environmental values are present in areas that may be subject to clearing via PNF without a council approval process.”

In a comment to the motion, council staff have said that the PNF approval process through the EPA was ‘fairly narrow’ … and there is ‘concern that the process does not provide for an in depth or holistic assessment of the impact of the activity’.